December 2011

My Muse Is Shitty Sleep Dreams

When I am asked about my writing process I am generally vague and will say I don’t really have a process because I don’t know how to explain my process without sounding completely insane. I saw this movie once, The Muse, starring Albert Brooks, Sharon Stone, and Andi McDowell. It was terrible. He was a burnt out screenwriter and Sharon Stone convinced him she was a muse or something, and suddenly he was writing again on this script he thought was really hot shit. Even though the people around him thought he was crazy for believing in this muse, he needed that faith to keep writing. He needed to believe the inspiration came from some external influence.

Throughout history there have been many famous muses–Kiki de Montparnasse, Patti Smith, Edie Sedgwick, Amanda Lepore, figures great artists drew some kind of inspiration from. Writers have muses too. F. Scott and Zelda seemed to bring out a certain something in one another. The Brownings were clearly inspired by each other in their poetry. A lot is made of these muses and they are often as lauded as the creative types who drew inspiration for them. It’s so exciting that these muses have a certain je ne sais quoi that brings about great art and literature.


Random / 31 Comments
December 20th, 2011 / 3:08 pm

Get Weird

Weird Fiction Review

(the brainchild of Ann VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer)

Some of the goodies you’ll find there include…

(1) Exclusive Interview with Thomas Ligotti on Weird Fiction (Includes Ligotti’s top picks for under-appreciated weird fiction!)

(2) “Maldoror Abroad” by K.J. Bishop (The author’s infamous tribute to Comte de Lautréamont’s Decadent classic “Les Chantes de Maldoror”)

(3) Reza Negarestani’s essay “All of a Twist” (An Exploration of Narration, Touching on Negarestani’s Novel Cyclonopedia)

(4) China Miéville’s essay “M.R. James and the Quantum Vampire Weird; Hauntological: Versus and/or and and/or or?”

(5) Algernon Blackwood’s short story “The Willows”

Random / 26 Comments
December 20th, 2011 / 11:40 am

“Pastoralia” as Necropastoral


Random / 29 Comments
December 19th, 2011 / 6:19 pm

The marks we leave on borrowed things

I used to have a real problem with people who messed up their library books. This is to say that I had a problem with myself. Even when I worked at a library, shelving books some thirty hours a week, I never got over the habit of eating while I read, and I never stopped eating the worst possible foods, the ones most dangerous to books — green curry, pasta with tomato sauce, soup, coffee, etc. I made stains. I shed hairs and skin into the books. I dog-eared pages that I wanted to look at again, sometimes. I left the books face-down, open on the arm of the couch, so that the covers warped. Still, it made me angry to see that others did the same things I did (and probably less often). One time I was reading (I forget the book) and my nose started bleeding. I didn’t know why. One fat drop landed on the page. I don’t remember what color it turned. READ MORE >

Random / 31 Comments
December 19th, 2011 / 3:10 pm

ToBS R2: ‘short-short’ referring to whiskey consumption vs. ‘curating’ a reading series

[matchup #43 in Tournament of Bookshit]

“short-short” referring to whiskey consumption


A “short-short” when referring to whiskey consumption is when a short person is drinking from a short glass of whiskey. The short person is almost always less than four feet tall and the glass must only be a shot glass but they sip from it, so it’s like a regular glass for them. Often times the short person is also wearing really short shorts but just like the glass, the shortness of the shorts looks normal against the scale of the short person. When the short person is a woman drinking from a short glass of whiskey, they are called a “short-shorty” (see also: Dr. Ruth ( It’s recommended that you know the “short-shorty” before calling her this, as short women are habitually feisty and like to climb things. “Short-shorties” tend to get drunk rather quickly, so if you are looking to hook up with a “short-shortie”, its best if you holler right at or before her third drink.


The first recorded “short-short” was a man named Carrey O’Carroll in 1542. O’Carroll was 14 when he traveled from Ireland to work in the court of King Henry VIII of England as the official merkin adjuster of the Queen’s ladies-in-waiting. A few historians have disputed that he is the real father of Queen Elizabeth I but others say she may be too tall to be his. He is also credited as the creator of the “body shot” as he frequently spilled his whiskey on the women whose merkins he adjusted. Later descendants of O’Carroll were known to have perfected a method of distilling rye that yielded 273 proof scotch, but after several “short-shorties” drank the beverage and went blind, the method was quickly abandoned.  READ MORE >

Contests / 15 Comments
December 19th, 2011 / 2:40 pm

Fan Mail #4: Ben Marcus

Dear Ben Marcus,

I just finished The Flame Alphabet. I woke up early on a Sunday morning to finish reading. And it was magnificent. I have read your books, or several of them at least. I read Age of Wire & String and Notable American Women the summer before starting grad school. They are audacious books, the syntax unlike anything I’d read before – call me a limited reader, of course, I’ve since read a lot more and come to understand its lineage – I wanted to emulate your style, your language, the way you created complex narrative by parataxis. I thought you were a fearless writer, and back then, I was young and afraid, although I didn’t show it in workshop, I wanted to be liked, as we all do when we’re young and insecure, but you, you were brazen, your writing was full of effrontery, and that’s what I wanted most in my writing. In short, you were an inspiration, maybe the biggest and most influential to me as a student.


I Like __ A Lot / 30 Comments
December 19th, 2011 / 12:49 pm

Stuff I Loved in 2011

That’s the feeling I look for, right? In whatever I’m eating, be it real food, or entertainment, art, people. The major event. A safe, manageable portion of the inner land or map blown away, torn out and away, dissolved or smoked. I only know a couple people who really seek that, or when they say they want that destruction it’s a good lie, and maybe they’ve said it enough so it’s shared and indistinguishable from truth. Regardless, it’s a common myth, a familiar dragon to chase, that of the Art That Changes For Good. I rarely recognize the mountain exploding in realtime, while reading something or watching a movie, it’s felt live that way maybe four times in my adultish life. Mostly it’s just feeling the echo of the boom a time later. Still, standing mountains aren’t terrible, and are often really nice. But sometimes you get lucky (pictured, pictured). Here’s what my year looked like:


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December 18th, 2011 / 10:55 pm

“When he was nineteen, writing La Doublure . . . Roussel felt a literal brilliance running all throughout his person, his writing implements, and his room. The light was so dazzling he had to draw the curtains, afraid that anyone who saw him would be blinded by the rays streaming out of his face.” — Ben Marcus

Sunday Service

Sunday Service: Sarah Rose Nordgren poem


All the world’s details blur when I turn
the fan on to sleep. The little cattle
fall over on the table. The sheep wobble.
Furniture skids across the floor
like crumpled receipts. The house,
an origami box, is undone.
Confetti falls out. Flimsy, after all,
like mother said, it wasn’t expected to last.
I have no husband, no child,
no dog to feed: the faces
I put so much faith in are paper circles.
Templates of Christ, they
resemble him in the most obvious ways:
mute and tiny and light. But He is
invisible. Unfolded. Taking
His beatings with gratitude and grace.

Sarah Rose Nordgren’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Iowa Review, Pleiades, The Literary Review, Quarterly West, Cincinnati Review, Verse Daily, and the Best New Poets 2011 anthology. She is the recipient of two poetry fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, where she is currently in residence, and a Louis Untermeyer Tuition Scholarship from the Bread Loaf Writers Conference. She grew up in Durham, North Carolina.